The beginning of fall always heralds heartier, warmer meals. That’s what we do it in the winter months — sort of like hibernating for humans! “Animals prepare for winter by fattening up and then sleeping through it. In humans, that … Continue reading
Many of us pay close attention to what we put on our plates because we’ve learned that what we eat can have a big effect on our health. But few of us stop to consider how our food choices impact our environment. In most cases, I think we’re just unaware. Maybe it’s time to educate ourselves about this increasingly important issue. After all, don’t we have a responsibility to our planet, helping feed the hungy and future generations?
Researchers at the World Resources Institute have learned that the type and quantity of food people eat has an important impact on the environment and that meat and dairy — especially beef — are particularly harmful. Meat and dairy are in fact considerably more resource-intensive to produce than plant-based foods. They increase pressure on our land, water and climate.
Statistics show that more than 66% of total greenhouse gases from food production comes from meat and dairy, even though they only contribute about 37 percent of total protein consumed.
Beef production requires 20 times more land and emits 20 times more greenhouse gas emissions per unit of edible protein than common plant-based protein sources such as beans, peas and lentils. Chicken and pork are more resource-efficient than beef, but still require three times more land and emit three times more greenhouse gas emissions than beans. Surprisingly, more than three-quarters of the world’s agricultural land is used to produce meat and dairy.
But what if we make “better” choices? Haven’t we been told that grass-fed, free-range, cage-free and pastured options are a more responsible choice? And isn’t it at least better to buy and eat products that come from small organic farms, which practice more humane methods of production?
Well, maybe not. Although these smaller systems appear to be environmentally sustainable, evidence suggests otherwise according to a New York Times article, The Myth of Sustainable Meat. The real truth is that grass-grazing cows emit considerably more methane than grain-fed cows and pastured organic chickens have a 20 percent greater impact on global warming.
To make matters worse, demand for animal-based food is expected to rise by 80 percent by 2050, with beef specifically increasing by 95 percent.
As nations urbanize and incomes rise, their citizens consume more calories and more animal-based foods such as beef, dairy, pork, chicken, eggs and fish, according to the WRI.
Additionally and equally important is the fact that the human population on our planet continues to rise, and is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050. Experts warn that we cannot sustain this growth with our current industrial agricultural paradigm model. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, natural health expert, the alarming concern is that if we continue along the present path, world hunger will continue to escalate without a viable way to meet the need.
The rise in the popularity of the Paleo Diet has also contributed to the increased demand for more meat. Food expert Michael Pollan debunks this diet for many reasons; most who defend this way of eating “don’t really understand…the proportions in the ancient diet…today’s meat is nothing like that of the hunter-gatherer.”
Americans eat more meat per person than any other people on earth, and we’re paying the price in doctor bills.
At 200 pounds of meat per person per year, our high meat consumption is hurting our national health. Hundreds of clinical studies in the past several decades show that consumption of meat and dairy, especially at the high levels seen in this country, can cause cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other diseases (meatonomics.com).
It’s interesting to note that the global average per person protein consumption exceeded dietary requirements in all regions in 2009, with each person consuming on average about 68 grams per day— one-third higher than the average daily adult requirement. In wealthy countries, protein consumption was higher still. For example, the average American man eats nearly 100 grams of protein per day, almost double the amount of protein he needs.
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” ~Michael Pollan
So what can we do to help?
It’s not necessary for all of us to go as drastic as becoming vegan! But if each of us made even small dietary shifts towards more plant-based diets we could significantly reduce greenhouse emissions and the use of agricultural resources. According to the WRI, the average American could cut their diet’s environmental footprint in half just by eating less meat and dairy. If we build our meals around plant-based proteins, instead of meat the way most of us were raised, we could make a difference.
- If you eat beef, just shifting one-third of your beef consumption to other meats like chicken or pork could cut your diet’s environmental impacts by nearly 15 percent.
- Why not adopt the “Meat-free Monday” policy at your house?
- Think about cutting your total animal product consumption (all meat, dairy, fish and eggs) by half. If you currently eat meat and cheese at two meals per day, try switching to plant protein like beans, tofu or tempeh at one of your meals. To maintain a healthy weight, add additional plant-based foods to your diet, such as vegetables, oats, quinoa, rice, hummus, nuts and fruits.
- Use calcium-enriched milk substitutes more often. Any food that comes directly from a plant rather than from livestock will generally be responsible for a much lower level of greenhouse gas emissions than livestock products.
Study the WRI scorecard below and lean towards foods that have lower environmental impact:
“Whatever the case may be, for now at least, at this very moment, there appears to be some compelling empirical evidence that eating a diet based on compassion is good not only for animals but the environment we share with them.”
~James McWilliams, historian and writer.
You’ll see huge benefits to your health and waistline too!
Here’s one idea for a meat-free meal:
Vegan Thai Vegetable Curry
One can full-fat coconut milk (do not shake can)
1/2 cup vegetable stock
4 teaspoons tamari
3 teaspoons brown sugar
4 Tablespoons Thai green curry paste (Thai Kitchen brand has no shrimp or fish paste)
1/2 cup diced onion
2/3 cup diced red bell pepper
2/3 cup diced zucchini
2/3 cup diced, peeled sweet potato
2/3 cup sliced bamboo shoots, rinsed and drained
1 cup green beans, trimmed to 1-inch length
2/3 cup diced eggplant
8 large basil leaves, cut into thin chiffonade
Open the can of coconut milk without shaking it. Spoon 6 tablespoons of the coconut cream from the top of the can into a large skillet. Pour remaining contents of can into a medium bowl, and mix well. In a small bowl, combine vegetable stock, soy sauce and brown sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Place skillet of coconut cream over medium-high heat until it begins to bubble. Add curry paste and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir constantly until very fragrant, about 3 minutes; adjust heat as needed to prevent burning.
Add all the vegetables: onion, red pepper, zucchini, sweet potato, bamboo shoots, green beans and eggplant. Stir until vegetables are hot, 2-3 minutes.
Stir in the rest of the coconut milk, bring the mixture to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
Add the tamari mixture to the skillet along with a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice to taste; you may use the juice of an entire lime. Stir and mix well. Add up to 1/4 cup water if the curry seems too thick.
To serve, place the curry in a warm serving bowl and garnish with the basil chiffonade. If desired, serve over brown or wild rice.
Recipe adapted from NYTimes cooking.
This recipe is TWC-approved!
A web search for turmeric brings up a multitide of sites, all with a similar headline: Amazing Health Benefits of Turmeric. One site even boasted: 500 Reasons Turmeric May Be The World’s Most Important Herb.
We’ve been hearing about turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties for years so let’s look closer at this ancient herb. Is turmeric really as great as so many say it is?
Turmeric is a spice in the ginger family, native to India and Southeast Asia, where it has been popular in cuisines for several thousand years. It’s an excellent source of both iron and manganese. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, dietary fiber, copper and potassium. The major phytonutrient in turmeric is curcumin.
According to World’s Healthiest Foods: Despite its use in cooking for several thousand years, turmeric continues to surprise researchers in terms of its wide-ranging health benefits. While once focused on anti-inflammatory benefits, decreased cancer risk, and support of detoxification, studies on turmeric intake now include its potential for improving cognitive function, blood sugar balance and kidney function, as well as lessening the degree of severity associated with certain forms of arthritis and certain digestive disorders.
One author claims that few modern-day pharmaceuticals come even remotely close to turmeric’s track record of safe use in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Many studies suggest equal healing benefits when turmeric is compared to conventional pain relief and anti-inflammatory medicines. If you are currently taking any medications it’s important to check with your doctor before using supplements.
The University of Maryland Medical Center studies show that turmeric may help fight infections and some cancers, reduce inflammation, and treat digestive problems. Their research suggests that turmeric may be helpful for indigestion, cancer (although it’s important to note they believe cancer should be treated with conventional medications; more research is needed), neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimers, Parkinsons and multiple sclerosis, and joint pain
Michael Greger, M.D., author of How Not To Die, is convinced we should all be finding ways to include turmeric in our diets. Based on it’s anti-inflammatory properties his recommended daily dose is 1/4 teaspoon daily.
Turmeric root has a very interesting taste and aroma. Its flavor is peppery, warm, and bitter while its fragrance is mild yet slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger. An easy way to consume the herb is to simply add 1/4 teaspoon to your green smoothie. I love it on oven baked sweet potatoes combined with cumin, cinnamon and a little salt. It’s also delicious with skillet-cooked garbanzo beans! Note that turmeric’s deep color can easily stain so be careful to wipe up any spills immediately.
Despite its vast potential for alleviating human suffering, turmeric will likely never receive the FDA stamp of approval, due to its lack of exclusivity, patentability and therefore profitability.
Here’s one recipe I enjoy often. This recipe for Turmeric Chicken is also delicious, but be careful to go a little lighter on the salt.
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
Combine oil and spices in a small bowl and mix well.
Place beans in a medium skillet and turn heat to medium high. Pour the spice mixture over the beans and cook, stirring often, until beans are heated through. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in airtight container for a few days.
Combine your favorite salad ingredients with the turmeric beans for a tasty lunch. I used arugula, fresh figs, cherry tomatoes, red grapes, thinly sliced red onion and avocado. Top with homemade balsamic vinaigrette and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper for a sweet and spicy salad. Enjoy!
This is a TWC-approved recipe!
Let’s face it. The idea of having a big salad for dinner isn’t generally all that exciting. But this one is good…really good! And who doesn’t love peanut sauce? I actually use almond butter and the result is every bit as delicious.
The addition of red cabbage makes the salad more flavorful and nutritious. Red cabbage is loaded with a wealth of phytochemicals, antioxidants, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Some of these essential components include folate, calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, and potassium, as well as vitamin C, A, E, K, dietary fiber, and the B-complex vitamins. Definitely worth a try for the health benefits alone!
1/4 cup creamy almond butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari
Juice of half a lime
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast (organic if possible)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon good olive oil
6-8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
2 cups finely shredded red cabbage
2 large carrots, julienned
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 scallions, white and light green parts chopped
1/4 cup chopped peanuts or almonds
1 lime, quartered for serving
To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the almond butter, honey, tamari, lime juice and cayenne pepper until smooth.
Pound the chicken to 1/2 inch thickness. Season liberally with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the breasts until golden and cooked through, 4-5 minutes each side. Remove from heat. Slice into thin strips when cool.
In a large bowl combine the lettuce and cabbage, carrots, peppers and scallions. Add the chicken, drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss gently to coat.
To serve divide the salad onto plates, top with chopped nuts and garnish with lime wedges.
Recently one of our exercisers surprised me with a beautiful bunch of beets from her garden. I was interested to learn that beets grow during the summer months; I’d always thought of them as a fall crop. I absolutely love beets. I’ve heard they’re super healthful but I was curious to find out exactly how they improve our health. Read on to learn more!
Beets are not only loaded with antioxidants they also have important anti-inflammatory properties.
You may be surprised to know that beets also:
Lower Your Blood Pressure- This benefit likely comes from the naturally occurring nitrates in beets, which are converted into nitric oxide* in your body. Nitric oxide, in turn, helps to relax and dilate your blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
Fight Inflammation-Beets are a unique source of betaine, a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It’s also known to help fight inflammation and help protect internal organs.
Help Prevent Cancer –The powerful phytonutrients that give beets their deep crimson color may help to ward off cancer. Taste good and help prevent cancer. What more do we need to know?
Provide Us With Valuable Nutrients and Fiber-Beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium, and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). Beets are particularly important to women who are pregnant–vitamin B and iron are very beneficial to new growth cells during pregnancy and replenishing iron in the woman’s body.
Less known but interesting facts about beets:
Nature’s Libido Booster- One of the first known uses of beets was by the ancient Romans, who used them medicinally as an aphrodisiac. And that’s not just urban legend – science backs it up. Beets contain high amounts of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones.
Beets cleanse the body-They are a wonderful tonic for the liver and work as a purifier for the blood.
Help your mental health-Beets contain betaine, the same substance that is used in certain treatments of depression. It also contains trytophan, which relaxes the mind and creates a sense of well-being.
* Researchers have found that sunlight triggers your skin’s production of nitric oxide. Why is this significant? Because nitric oxide is crucial for maintaining healthy blood pressure, helps prevent atherosclerosis, and plays a role in modulating immune system function.
I usually enjoy my beets roasted but the thought of turning on my oven during these dog days of summer is not appealing. This recipe does require a little stove top cooking but the end result is a really tasty vegetarian meal.
Tangy Beets With Soba Noodles
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
3-4 large beets
1 Cup almond milk
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
3 Tablespoons almond butter
1/2-1 cup vegetable broth
1 package soba noodles* or whole grain pasta
Peel the beets and cut them into small pieces. Peel and dice the onion.
Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet then add the onion and beets. Saute over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the almond milk, tamari, maple syrup and spices. Reduce heat to low, stir in 1/2 cup broth and the almond butter. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the beets and soft.
Meanwhile, cook and drain the soba noodles. Serve the beets over the noodles.
If you have leftovers try this:
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add a can of drained garbanzo beans. Season with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric. Add sea salt and pepper to your taste. Cook to heat through then add to your beet mixture.
*Soba noodles have fewer calories, more fiber and more protein than traditional pasta.
This veggie burger works well because it actually holds together — something so many versions don’t do. The secret is in the four eggs and whole wheat bread crumbs.
I love the idea of cutting the cooked patty in half and stuffing the center with delicious fillings so you don’t need bread. The original recipe calls for garbanzo beans but I used the mung beans I had left over and they worked well too. Mung beans cook much faster than most beans and have a nutritional profile similar to chickpeas except they offer more magnesium (good for intense exercise enthusiasts), folate and vitamin B1. The recipe makes about six burgers and one per person is plenty. They’re very filling once you add the stuffings!
Ultimate Veggie Burger
2 1/2 cups garbanzo beans (chickpeas) or mung beans
1 onion, quartered
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Grated zest of one large lemon
1 cup micro sprouts, chopped (try broccoli, onion or alfalfa sprouts), optional
1 cup whole-grain bread crumbs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or clarified butter)
Pulse the onions a few times in a food processor. Add the beans, eggs and salt. Puree until the mixture is the consistency of a very thick, slightly chunky hummus. Pour into a mixing bowl and stir in the cilantro, zest and sprouts. Add the breadcrumbs; stir and let sit for a couple of minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. At this point, you should have a moist mixture that you can easily form into six larger patties. If the patties seem too runny, you can always add more bread crumbs a little at a time to firm up the dough if necessary. A bit of water can also be used to moisten the batter.
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-low, add four patties, cover, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms begin to brown. Turn up the heat if there is no browning after 10 minutes. Flip the patties and cook the second side for 7 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties. Carefully cut each patty in half, insert your favorite fillings, and enjoy immediately.
I spread salted Greek yogurt on each side then added oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and sliced avocado. You might also add some grilled red peppers, arugula or thinly sliced red onion. The possibilities are endless!
Oatmeal used to be one of the most underrated grains but lately it’s reached almost “superfood” status because of its ability to affect our health and wellness in so many different ways.
I’ve always loved oatmeal and have enjoyed it almost every morning for breakfast as long as I can remember. It’s relatively low in calories but really fills me up. No other food does it like oats!
Aside from tasting great when combined with fruit, ground flax, cinnamon, raisins and almond milk, oats are super good for us. Read below to find out just how good!
1. Lowers Your Cholesterol Levels
Oatmeal contains a specific type of fiber known as beta-glucan which has proven to have big-time beneficial effects on cholesterol levels. Studies show that people with high cholesterol (above 220 mg/dl) who consume one bowl of oatmeal each day typically lower their total cholesterol by 8-23%.
2. Protects Against Cardiovascular Disease
In addition to helping reduce cholesterol research now suggests oats may have another cardio-protective mechanism. A bioactive compound unique to oats, called avenanthramides, is thought to stop fat forming in the arteries, preventing heart attacks and strokes.
3. Helps Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels
Starting out your day with oats may make it easier to keep blood sugar levels under control the rest of the day. Your blood sugar level is the amount of glucose (from your food) that circulates in your bloodstream, providing energy to cells either immediately or stored for future use. A well-balanced blood sugar level is crucial to overall fitness and well-being, regulating your hormones, triggering your body to burn stored fat, and increasing your metabolism to help you lose weight.
4. Offers Protection Against Breast and Colon Cancer
Studies show that oatmeal has a stimulating effect on the immune system, helping keep your body strong and better equipped to defend against disease. The insoluble fiber in oatmeal helps you stay regular and increases the functioning of your digestive tract, promoting good colon health. The selenium in oatmeal helps repair DNA and is linked with corresponding lower cancer risk, especially colon cancer. See more at pinkribboncooking.com. Pre-menopausal women eating the most whole grain fiber like oatmeal had a 41% reduced risk of breast cancer according to researchers.
5. Provides an Amazing Array of Vitamins and Minerals
- Manganese: This trace mineral is important for development, growth and metabolism.
- Phosphorus: An important mineral for bone health and tissue maintenance.
- Copper: An antioxidant mineral that is often lacking in the Western diet. It is considered important for heart health.
- Vitamin B1: Also known as thiamine, this vitamin may protect the eye lens and help protect against cateracts.
- Iron: As a component of hemoglobin, a protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood, iron is absolutely essential in the human diet.
- Selenium: An antioxidant, important for various processes in the body. Low selenium status has been associated with increased risk of premature death, and impaired immune and mental function
- Magnesium: Often lacking in the diet. Adequate intake of magnesium and vitamin D coupled with overall proper nutrition and weight- bearing exercise are the primary preventive measures for osteoporosis. Intense exercise can deplete your body of magnesium.
- Zinc: A mineral that participates in many chemical reactions in the body and is important for overall health.
Eat your oats, protect your health!
When it’s too hot out to eat a steaming bowl of oatmeal try this!
Summer Time Overnight Oats
Makes 2 servings
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened almond or other milk
1/2 cup filtered water
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2/3 cup blueberries
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon ground flax
1 pinch salt
3 dried apricots, chopped
Optional: drizzle of honey
Combine all ingredients except apricots in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve top each bowl with chopped apricots and a bit of honey if desired.
Ever feel like you need a rest after your “relaxing” vacation? Here are a few tips to help you enjoy your time away and return home feeling rejuvenated and energized:
1. Stay Hydrated
One of the best ways to keep your energy level up is to drink plenty of filtered water. Aim to drink at least one-third of your body weight in ounces each day to offset the side effects of over-consumption of alcohol, “vacation” diet, time spent in the sun, and the fact that travel itself can be stressful and draining. Start early and drink water steadily throughout the day. A hydrated body is a more efficient body. In addition to helping you feel great, hydration is also one of the keys to healthy looking skin. If your vacation plans involve flying, make an extra effort to drink plenty of water in the days leading up to your flight, while limiting caffeine and alcohol.
2. Add These Foods To Offset Dietary Splurges
Inflammation can be protective, such as when our bodies respond to injury. But chronic inflammation — in response to a steady diet of processed foods, sugar, alcohol and inadequate sleep — is a different story altogether. This often happens when we’re away from home and why we end up feeling not so great when vacation is over.
It’s important, even necessary, to take a break from our hectic schedules at least a few times a year. But we don’t do ourselves any favors when those breaks include ditching all health-promoting food and our usual healthy habits! Don’t get me wrong: you can (and should) still enjoy your favorite vacation foods, just do your best to offset the splurges with healing foods so you return home feeling rested instead of bloated. Simply adding certain foods to your diet will cool down that inflammation: vegetables (no, not French fries!), fruits (especially berries), nuts, seeds and small amounts of healthy oils like avocados and olive oil will do the trick. Also, herbs such as ginger, turmeric, basil and rosemary have tremendous healing properties.
3. Move Your Body
It doesn’t have to be intense, but try to squeeze in 20 to 30 minutes of active time each day. Ride a bike, go for a run or a power walk. Take a hike or enjoy a swim. Exercise helps you sleep more soundly and is the antidote for extra calories and brain fog from too much sugar or alcohol. Plus, if you know you’re going to be active the next day, you’ll be more mindful of how you’re fueling your body.
Have fun on vacation and be mindful of these small steps to help you feel your best. Your body will thank you!
This stew is not just delicious, it’s super healthy, wonderfully filling and nicely spiced. Ingredients 3 Tablespoons olive oil 2 leeks, white and green parts, diced 1 bunch cilantro, leaves and stems separated 1 cup finely diced fennel 2 garlic … Continue reading
I’d never tried any kind of bean pasta before I made this recipe last week. Of course there’s nothing wrong with eating plain old pasta once in a while but it’s fun to try new products too! I was intrigued by the Organic Black Bean Spaghetti … Continue reading